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Weekly Fantasy Fix: Simple Writing Tips!

Weekly Fantasy Fix


A couple weeks ago, we talked about NaNoWriMo starting on November 1st. Although I will not be personally joining a camp, I will be writing a significant amount of words during the month. Whether you have been writing for two years or two weeks, I wanted to include a few healthy reminders of what may help you be successful in your writing endeavors.

  • Start small. The important thing is to maintain a routine of writing every single day. 300 words per day is plenty. Did you know John Grisham began his writing career as a lawyer? He got up early every morning and wrote one page. You can do the same.
  • Have an outline. I am currently working on a webinar talking about important tips when writing. One large piece of writing is maintaining an outline. Think of your book in terms of beginning, middle, and end. Anything more complicated will get you lost. Highlight your plot points and break them down into major events.
  • Have a set time and place to work on your book every day. Schedule your time to work and your time to be off. When you are writing, you should be in a special space for writing, so when you enter it, your body is ready to tackle the manuscript. And don’t let yourself off the hook.

These are not entirely complex tips to follow, but even the best of writers forget the simplicity that keeps us on track. Now get out there if you are a writer, because you should be writing.

Joshua Robertson, CEO

Crimson Edge Press, LLC

Also in this Issue:

  • Join the Brain to Books Cyber Convention in 2017
  • Get Caught Reading: Deadline Extended
  • Learn how to prepare for a Facebook Event
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Weekly Fantasy Fix: Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey

Weekly Fantasy Fix


World building is a time consuming process. There is a lot to take into account when you are considering every aspect of a new world…how it came to be, what kinds of people lived there, how its landscape, history, economy, religion, and politics developed over time to the point where your book plot begins. How is what you write going to shape that world’s future for any additional books you may be planning?

Part of building a new world is figuring out how time works. Is your brand new world governed by the same rules we’re already familiar with? Or is it more subjective and non-linear; “a big ball of wibbly wobbly timey wimey…stuff” as David Tennant (still the best Doctor!) describes time in Doctor Who? Do you mark the passage of time with minutes, hours, days, months, years? And are those at the same intervals we are accustomed to? Maybe you are doing something radically different. If so, how do you get your reader to let go of what they know and embrace your vision of how time moves?

When I started working on my series I ran into two issues which affected my perspective on time. First, even though my world is a complete fantasy, the setting mimics that of medieval Europe. I relied heavily on research to inform the details of what daily life would have been like. One thing I discovered is that while people of that era had the ability to keep time with mechanical clocks and other means, ordinary people simply didn’t bother. They didn’t even necessarily know their birthdays. They often had a general idea based on the season, but didn’t keep track of the specific date. They might mark certain years based on memorable events, like the year the river flooded, or lightning struck the bell tower. Religious days and festivals were more regimented, but by the Church, which was more exact with its time keeping.

For most, the days were governed by the position of the sun, and the passage of time by the seasons and the demands required by them in turn. I’ve tried to express this different sense of time through the eyes of my characters—hopefully I have been successful. I also purposely did not give my characters specific ages. I have a general idea of how old they are, and so do they. But they won’t be celebrating any birthdays.

Second, our present day calendar and numeric way of tracking the passage of years is unique to our history. It occurred to me that in my world, their way of keeping time should be unique to theirs. Trying to track years with numbers quickly became too complicated, especially since I created a historic timeline that started way back at the very creation of my world.

I decided instead to split my world up into different eras, their names determined by a special group of prophets within the monastic community. Each era of time has its own important events, and its own feel, much like the decades of the 20th century. The 60’s had a very different feel from the 80’s. The names given to each era describe their significance in history, starting with the Era of the Ancients, the very first era in which the world was created and humanity made its appearance. Later on the Era of Desolation marked a period of great turmoil and suffering, followed by the Era of Varol, where my world’s greatest hero (Varol) emerges to change the course of history. A listing of all the eras and their significance was included as supplemental material when I published Ancient Voices: Into the Depths.

If you’re a fantasy or sci-fi writer, how do you mark time in your world? If you’re a reader, what are some of the most interesting ways your favorite authors have played with the concept of time in theirs?



Also in this issue:

  • Medieval Menagerie
  • Virtual FantasyCon: Coming Soon!
  • Catch Your Child Reading
  • Into the Shadow Wood by Allison D. Reid
  • Fantasy Art
  • And more…

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Guest Post: When Your Characters Write You: Fiction As Self-Improvement by Ria Fritz

sad-woman-1055092_640I can’t tell you much about my day job, but I will say that it’s stressful, unpredictable, and full of drama. The characters I work with bring their baggage with them every day; it’s the nature of the job. I think academic types call our work “emotional labor”: we struggle not with physical tasks or stubborn machinery, but with the problems of the people around us.

We lash out at each other, not out of spite, but out of frustration and desperate concern. We love the people we work with so much that we have nightmares of them falling into harm’s way. We try to get better at our jobs to minimize our failures, but usually, something or someone stands in our way.

I started writing more frequently about a year and a half ago, when the turmoil at work reached a fever pitch. I had been in that office less than a year, yet I had been tasked with one of the most difficult projects our team had seen in recent years. Spoiler alert: I’m 23 years old. I was 22 at that time.

I had no idea how to handle the stress, so I wrote my way into new worlds, which could distract me better than any friends or lovers ever could. I wrote thousands and thousands of words each week, and it was isolating but therapeutic. I simply didn’t have the energy to relay my problems to friends, or the money to go to counseling, so I processed my turmoil by channeling it through people who didn’t exist.

It was through writing, though, that I began to improve myself. My main characters would take on a tough situation and win. I would see the things that they had done well, scratch my head, and ask, “Why don’t I do that?” When it was time for my characters to make a mistake, I would cringe as I wrote it, knowing that it was forcing me to look at my own flaws.

I wrote strong characters who spoke their mind, and suddenly, the idea of speaking my mind didn’t seem so scary. When I wrote characters who cared about each other, the idea of investing in the people around me seemed less foreign. Instead of simply writing about the kind of friendships and personal growth I wanted, why shouldn’t I put some effort into making those things exist?

Looking back, I see myself reflected in my characters – but not because I based them on myself. I wrote who I wanted to be, and it made me stronger. I designed worlds I didn’t know based on challenges I did know; I spun stories of problems that no individual could solve on their own; I wrote leaders and reckless fools who stumbled through trials with their principles intact. I didn’t even finish all of those stories, but I felt their impact.

I viewed my colleagues differently after I started writing. I would see them handle something poorly and think, “Wait, that’s a perfectly human mistake, because that’s something [character] would do.” Writing gets you out of your own head and into someone else’s, and that empathy can’t be taught – it can only be learned.

Of course, simply writing isn’t enough. You have to absorb other people’s characters as well, because your own writing will only expand your views so far. Go out of your way to read diverse books, and it will make you a better author, as well. At the end of the day, though, writing your own experiences into your stories will change your life. It’s like troubleshooting a long, complicated problem with a friend who’s an amazing listener: you might eventually talk yourself into a solution. You just have to be open to it. It may take months or years, and you may never see a paycheck for it, but that time you spend will be more valuable than gold.

Ria Fritz is a 23-year-old Midwestern queer author. She likes cats, science fiction, diverse characters, strong and flawed women, and characters with substance abuse/mental health problems. She hates committing to things and talking about herself. Her current projects include Maywitch, an urban fantasy web novel; and Chasing Falling Stars, the second book of the Quicksand series. Rising From the Sand, Book One of the Quicksand series, is currently available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and other retailers. You can find her on her website!

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